All God’s people walking together.

On Sunday 24th in our services, I made use of some of the resources offered by the organisation ‘Common Grace’. Common Grace is, to quote, an

online Australian Christian movement for justice. We exist to inspire and organise Australian Christians to think, speak and act like Jesus for a more just world.’

As part of this movement there is a desire to mobilise the wider Australian church in building relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Island peoples who themselves are following Jesus. Key Aboriginal Christian leaders, including Aunty Jean Phillips who we heard from through video in our services recognise that true reconciliation can only be found in Christ.

This message resonates with Verity and I as we have been facilitating prayer across the Greater Bunbury region over the past few years. When we unite before our Father in heaven, recognising one another as the body of Christ and pray in the Spirit we know that God will command His blessing. We have been very aware that there has been no representation to date of brothers or sisters from our Christian Aboriginal communities locally. We were finally able to meet with some of  our Aboriginal Christian sisters recently and hope that we can walk together and learn from one another as we all seek the Kingdom of God on earth, something we pray for in the Lord’s prayer.

Our first identity as Christians is just that , we are ‘in Christ’, we are His body. One of our roles may well be to prayerfully seek a greater reconciliation and peace among all the peoples of Australia, starting with local relationship building and prayer together.    

There is much to celebrate about Australia. We are blessed to reside here. We continue to pray for Australia that the kingdom Jesus announced would come increasingly here and that God’s will would come here as in heaven.

As we walk close to Jesus, we walk close to those who are walking with Jesus-.

Shalom

Jamie

Sharing the Joy

On Sunday the 20th of December we held our ‘Share the Joy’ musical evening. How wonderful it was to see the kids involved as well as the adults taking parts in acting, reading verses, or as a part of the musicians and singers.

Due to Covid, we had to plan and run things differently to our past Carols and Cappuccino nights as we were restricted in the number we could have in our main building. This meant we had to make it a ticketed event with allocated seats.

I would like to thank everyone who played a part in making the night the success it was, and also to those who came along. While it was a time-consuming task to make sure that we did everything according to government guidelines, we did manage to continue the wonderful feeling of joyous celebration, inclusion and warmth.

After the singing finished we also enjoyed the Vocal Fusion Youth Choir singing out the front of the Heritage Church, as well as the coffee machine up and running and a sausage sizzle.

Follow me.

In our gospel reading for today we see Jesus who ‘finds’ Philip and says to him ‘follow me.’ John 1:43.

In a profound sense, like Phillip , we who seek to live out our baptism vows have been found by the one who came into the world to reconcile us with God. Jesus then calls us to follow Him. 2021 is another year of opportunity to follow Jesus. Making that choice daily is probably the most important decision of each day. In the midst of all the uncertainty, He is faithful and I can rely on Him.

Our new parish council will be praying and looking for the Lord to lead us in our decision making. Our service and ministry leaders will be doing the same. The General Synod of the Anglican church and our own synod the same.

Are we going to follow Jesus or are we going to follow the world, our own ’flesh’ or the devil?

How do we know what following Jesus is?  We ask the Holy Spirit to guide us especially in our reading and application of scripture. Paul notes that ‘All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the people of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ‘ (2 Tim 3:16.)   We know that God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path(Psalm 119:105) Those who build on Jesus words are building on a rock that cannot be shaken.

When following Jesus takes us out of step with the prevailing culture, are we going to be courageous and follow Him? When we are challenged by scripture and the Holy Spirit regarding our ‘flesh’, that is the tendencies and inclinations of our old fallen nature, are we going to rely on the Spirit to help us put it to death and then bear the good fruit promised. The fruit that comes from saying and living as we say ‘yes Lord. Your kingdom come Your will be done in my life and through St Nics?’

We framed our response to God’s grace here at St Nic’s with the following statement  5 B’s : to Bless abundantly, Belong wholeheartedly, Believe increasingly, Behave with integrity and Become Good News.  Join with me in praying we will be that church community this year and that we will follow Jesus.

Shalom

Jamie

Good News

I wrote this piece in 1988, recorded it professionally in 1991 and now seems a good time to place it online as I’ve finally made time to do it! A blessed Christmas everyone. Listen to at least 56 seconds 🙂

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.’ (Isaiah 9:2)

 So begins Isaiah’s foretelling of one who was to come. ‘Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end . He will reign on David’s throne….from that time on and forever.’ Isaiah 9: 7.

And so approx. 700 years later we travel with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem the city of David where (retrospectively)we recognise this child arrives. Jesus( God saves) is the  Christ (the anointed king)  who has been sent into the world (mas). Christmas.

This is the one who later declared ‘ I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ John 8: 12 What a claim! Holman Hunt captured this with Jesus knocking on the door of someone’s heart..

When we open the door to Jesus, when we receive Jesus as Lord into our lives, we receive the light of life. We begin to see life differently. As we become a follower, of Jesus we no longer have to remain bound in spiritual or psychological darkness. We have a very real invitation to begin a journey into increasing light and holiness with Him. This is true personally, socially, and politically. It happens through the Holy Spirit. We explore that here at St Nics through Alpha, Being together and Living Free or on our 1:1 discipleship course. Have a look at our testimony tab.

When Isaiah gave this prophecy, things were about to get much worse politically for Israel. The Assyrians were about to sweep down into northern Israel and the diaspora of the 10 tribes happened.  Later the Babylonians came and destroyed the temple and removed the remaining leaders and hierarchy from Jerusalem. Later Cyrus and then Artaxerxes supported a rebuild. Later the Greeks came and then as Alexander’s empire split various factions and mini empires arose and fought over the land until finally the Romans came and made Palestine a province. Good grief. Where was the Messiah, the Christ?

And yet this promise began its literal fulfilment with Jesus arrival. Since his crucifixion, glorious resurrection, and ascension His kingdom has come and continues to come through the Holy Spirit’s life-transforming witness in individuals and communities.  Through the church.  Empires have come and gone and will continue to do so. However, of the increase of His government and peace, there shall be no end. This is happening. There are more Christians alive today than ever before.

If you are not experiencing His light in your life consider Alpha, consider Living Free. The best gift anyone can receive at Christmas is Christ Himself. If you want help in doing so, please speak to me or other Christians you know.

I am praying as I write this that that you  experience Immanuel, God with us, God with you, this Christmas.

Shalom

Jamie

Receiving Christ at Christmas?

It’s ironic isn’t it, that with all the challenges of school, work parties, family life, friends, gifts, meal planning and more we are so hard-pressed to welcome Christ Jesus. No room at the Inn takes on meaning for us. We think let me just get through Christmas day and Boxing day and then I’ll relax and maybe have time to reflect.

For others there is no Christ at Christmas, rather we have a season of enculturated festivities that have a loose link to baby Jesus. For others it’s just another holiday opportunity. BBQ’s and drink here we come.

So, Christ-Mas. Christ, that is the anointed one of God, the Messiah. Mas, from the Latin meaning sent. The King is sent fulfilling hundreds of years of expectation and prophetic foresight and the King taught, healed, loved, forgave and died a sacrificial death for us all so that we might receive the greatest gift. The gift, a restored, reconciled relationship with our maker and the privilege and joy of being in and under His Kingly rule and blessing.

We were privileged to welcome guests at our Carols on Sunday 20th evening. We prayed that this opportunity to reflect would nourish and sustain your faith in Jesus. If you were with us and not yet in a relationship with Him, thank you for coming. May God’s Spirit continue to speak to you and may you discover you are loved more deeply and gloriously than you can imagine. Follow up your moment of epiphany with a prayer and explore faith in Jesus through Alpha. Come and talk to me! Check out our website, talk to the Christians you know. May I encourage you to receive Christ into your life afresh or the first time? Receive the one who was sent for you.

Shalom Jamie

Alpha

We recently completed our second Alpha course of 2020 this term. 8 guests began the course and 6 completed it. Feedback from the guests was positive including comments like, “I feel more at peace”, “I made new friends”, “I feel more loved” and “it strengthened my faith”.

Three of the guests are considering the Discipleship Course as a follow up to Alpha and two are considering joining one of our small groups. Alpha continues to be a good starting point for those who are new to our church and/or want to explore the Christian faith in a friendly, non-threatening environment.

Thank you to those who have prayed for us. It was a joy to know that the Sunday evening prayer group and the Connect group were praying faithfully for us each week. We would also like to thank Katherine O’Neill and Kate Tremble for assisting us in leading the course and Rosemary Lindroth, Stephany Durack and Suzanne Saunders who served supper for us at our Holy Spirit afternoon. We thank God for his work among us and look forward to our next Alpha course in Term 2, 2021.

If you are interested in attending the next Alpha, please email the church office on stnicholasminster@gmail.com

Shalom Jamie and Verity

Concerning ‘last days’ what kind of people should we be?

This week Sunday, Dec 5th  at 8 am I will looking albeit briefly at 2 Peter, following our lectionary reading as we move from the end of the age we explored last Sunday in Mark 13 to ‘that day’ Mark 13:32. Here’s the link to last weeks sermon.

We will be exploring ‘ that day ‘ through Peter’s view in his second letter and the implications for Christians then and now. 

AD 70 marked the climax of the end of an age, that Jesus foretold, and embodied in a new creation with his resurrection and ascension. His sacrifice ended the old covenant.  The new covenant made possible for all people, Jew or gentile would no longer centre on temple worship.  With the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the destruction of the temple in AD 70 the ‘new age’ begins. Not a smorgasbord of ‘spirituality’ but an age of salvation through and in Christ alone. The age of the gospel. The age of Good News of which we Christians are messengers to all peoples to this very day.

However, Mark 13:32 speaks of another day and this is what Peter addresses in his letter.  The ‘day of the Lord’ when all things will be made new. When the new creation begun in Christ’s resurrection and exaltation is finally brought to fullness.

In scripture, the teachings on the last day are not supposed to incite dread rather it is a day of hope and joy for us as children of God because it is the great day when all things will be made new. As Peter says in 2 Peter 3: 11 he writes ‘ to stimulate you to wholesome thinking’. There is a considerable amount of false teaching on this and it links to fear and control. In my view, it does not reflect the Holy Spirit rather a spirit of divination. Peter warns us to be on our guard against all such falsehoods. The question he poses is ‘what kind of people ought we to be? See 2 Peter 3: 11.  Listen in to this weeks sermon if you miss it today. Contact me with your questions if these arise for you.

Shalom

Jamie

Getting Ready for the King

It’s ‘that time of year’ again. Coles and Woolworths are awash with Christmas stuff, trees are now evident and off we go in the increase of end of term events at school, clubs and work and gift purchases and posting or giving. Some people love this. Many do not! No time to ‘get ready for the King’ in the midst of it all you may feel. However, there remain many misconceptions ( pun intended) about Christmas- literally, the Christ-anointed one / King coming. Firstly in Bethlehem and again in a time yet to be revealed. Both occasions are ones of great hope and joy for those who love Jesus and know His love.

Setting out Christmas Decs at St Nics

Our current service structures on Sunday mean that we have two very different gatherings on Sunday mornings. Our 8 am remains a fairly traditional service, with a warm and welcoming congregation where our teaching continues in the familiar sermon format. However, since returning to the church building our 10 am congregational gatherings are very different with all kinds of approaches to learning and growing together. While not exclusively for families and children we are making it a service with our families, not for our families both young and old. Because of the way we are collaborating on these services we cannot record the teaching as it is more interactive and uses a wide variety of learning styles. My thanks to all those who have so readily participated in quizzes, dance, artistic expressions, team games and so on.

Looking for Joy? Find out more about Jesus the reason for the season.

So as we ‘Get ready for the King’ at our 10 am service we are looking at the characters mentioned in our Advent candle lighting week by week, those who anticipated the first coming of Jesus to the world. At 8 am we will follow the regular readings of our wider Anglican church community. Sunday 29th November at 8 am I will be exploring some of Jesus’ teaching from Mark 13 on signs of the end of the age- what age was Jesus referring to, what signs and when did this happen and what is yet to happen? Listen to the recording if you can’t be with us. This Sunday, 29th at 10 am we are exploring through a ‘Who am I’ quiz and other means Abraham, Moses and David and how the promises given to them were fulfilled and continue to be fulfilled by Jesus.

We will be running at 8 am and 10 am services on the 29th Nov, 6th and 13th December. However, on the 20th December, we have only an 8 am service in the morning and a strictly ticketed family Carols and Cappucino event at 5:30 primarily for our immediate church family and friends. We have a number of restrictions on all our gatherings and especially this one as we seek to remain COVID safe. No ticket means no entry to that event:) I trust you understand.

On the evening of the 24th at 7 pm, we have a traditional Anglican communion service with some Carols. On the 25th at 8 am we have a short communion service and then an informal family service at 9 am . The following Sunday 27th there is a single service at 9 am. Single Sunday services continue until the 10th January when 8 am and services resume.

My thanks to Melissa, Julietta and Verity for helping us ‘Get ready for the King’.

So may I wish you all a blessed Advent season and a joyous Christmas which begins on the 25th December. I keep reminding everyone you have 12 days to celebrate so that helps take the pressure off a bit. We look forward to welcoming you here at St Nics in this season and beyond.

Jamie

Remember Me

On Friday 20th November,  we held a Memorial Service here  at St Nic’s to enable members of our congregation to remember loved ones who have died  and to celebrate the relationship we had, and still have with them. Through a simple ceremony including hymns, Bible readings, prayers, and lighting of candles, followed by a sharing social time at morning tea, we had the  opportunity to honour the significance of a unique and well-loved person in our lives.

A Memorial Service gives us a way of saying this life mattered and lives on in us, and to acknowledge the stories, memories, and moments we shared with a friend or loved one. It is also a way for family and friends to support one another, to share grief, memories, and celebration, so that mourners know they are not alone and can feel a connection to others who are feeling the same emotions. We also continue with the great hope of resurrection and new creation that Jesus promises .

Whether our loved one died many years ago or in recent times, a memorial service can help us search for meaning, and mark our place in our grief journey as well as our life journey. We can celebrate our love for this person, commemorate a life well-lived and be encouraged to live our own lives with purpose, zeal, and passion.

I feel I can speak for many who were present when I say we shared a very special time on Friday. Yes, there was some sorrow and sadness, but there was also a great sense of peace and gratitude that we had these remembered ones in our lives.

“They are not apart from us. They are part of us, for love is eternal and those we love will be with us for eternity.”

Given the lovely feedback we received we will look to hold a Memorial Service once a year at St Nics. It is important that we acknowledge those who have gone before us and the legacy which allows them to live on.

Yours in Christ

Suzanne Saunders

Warden